DANNY Ildefonso is weighing his options as he waits to become an unrestricted free agent - and free to go to any team of his choice - under the PBA's new rules on free agency.
The 36-year-old big man out of National University was mysteriously dropped from Petron's lineup just days before the season, but he said his priority is still to mend fences with the only team he has played for in a career that started in 1998 - and hopefully remain with the ballclub.
“Gusto ko lang naman malaman kung may chance pa ako ma-lineup sa Petron," said the two-time league MVP. "Kung wala naman na talaga, eh magpapasalamat na lang kami sa kanila, kasi gusto naman namin ng maayos na pagpapaalam.”
Ildefonso has not directly addressed questions about the exact reason for the fallout, but Spin.ph has reported that the 36-year-old has incurred the ire of management for his frank comments on personnel movements made by the San Miguel-owned team over the years.
[For full story, see Ildefonso offered coaching job as hopes dim for Petron return]
But in the event Petron doesn't offer him a new contract with terms similar to those on the final year of his old deal with the Boosters, Ildefonso will automatically become an unrestricted free agent under new rules implemented by the league on players whose contracts expired at the end of last season.
Under those new rules, Ildefonso expects to be a free agent by noon on Saturday.
At the moment, the 15-year veteran said he is just waiting for a chance to meet with Petron management led by San Miguel Corp. big boss Ramon S. Ang so he can clear things up.
“Maglalaro naman ako kung saan nila (SMC management) ako ilalagay,” he said, mentioning Petron sister teams Barangay Ginebra and San Mig Coffee as possible destinations.
Ildefonso, who turns 37 on December 10, said he still longs to play and made it clear he intends to explore his options if ever he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
“Ako gusto ko pa talaga maglaro,” he said.
The 6-5 Urdaneta, Pangasinan native admits getting calls from Talk 'N Text, which Spin.ph reported has mulled signing Ildefonso to reunite with Danny Seigle, a longtime teammate at San Miguel Beer who the Texters signed to a one-year deal on Tuesday.
[For full story, see Two Dannys to reunite at Talk 'N Text? Source says deal for Ildefonso in the works]
But if he has his way, Ildefonso, who owns career averages of 11.48 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 30.7 minutes of play, said he would prefer reuniting with his former coach at San Miguel, Jong Uichico, at Meralco.
Ildefonso won six championships at San Miguel under Uichico, who has moved to the PLDT group as an assistant of Ryan Gregorio at Meralco and as head coach of the Philippine team bound for the coming Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.
“Kung walang offer, at kung ako naman papipiliin, gusto ko sana maglaro kay coach Jong (Uichico),” he said. “Siyempre naka-anim na championship din ako sa kanya.”
But in the meantime, the clock ticks to unrestricted free agency for Ildefonso.